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San Juan Regional Medical Center promotes nurse navigators

Advocates act as a liaison between provider and patient
Jane Makovicka, left, a patient at San Juan Health Partners Internal Medicine, sits with Michelle Russo who has been her nurse navigator for three years. San Juan Regional Medical Center expanded and now has more nurse navigators at three different clinics.

FARMINGTON – San Juan Regional Medical Center is promoting the Nurse Navigator program at clinics run by the hospital to encourage patients to take advantage of the advocates so they can better understand their own health care.

There are four nurse navigators at three clinics. Michelle Russo is the nurse navigator at San Juan Health Partners Internal Medicine and Specialty Services. The nurse navigators at San Juan Health Partners Family Medicine Farmington are Shelley Oglesby and Patrick Oglesby. Finally, Amber Reed is at both locations of the San Juan Health Partners Family Medicine in Aztec.

Patrick Oglesby said nurse navigators work in the clinics to be advocates for patients and are there to answer any questions patients might have and be a “liaison between the patient and provider.”

“We help the patient to navigate the health care system, if they have questions about how to get services or where to get referrals,” Patrick Oglesby said. “We can help make appointments.”

The nurse navigators can also do Medicare wellness visits on an annual basis to update patients’ charts or adjust any medications.

“Transitioning from commercial insurance to Medicare insurance can be complicated and that’s what we are here to help with,” Reed said. “We want our patients to be able to utilize their benefits to the fullest potential.”

Russo said among some of the benefits, the nurse navigators help patients understand their medications and can help schedule appointments.

“We also support patients in the community in a variety of ways by connecting them with different resources,” Russo said. “We troubleshoot things for patients. We help to push things through and create a situation where a patient is getting the necessary care sooner rather than later.”

Patrick Oglesby said the program tries to get to know patients so their care is more personalized.

“My favorite part of the job is getting to know the patients on a personal level and getting to learn more about the patient and their health and then being able to help the patient identify needs or goals,” Patrick Oglesby said.

Shelley Oglesby explained why they are called navigators.

“We look at the paths the patient has been on, the direction they want to take, and partner with them to reach their desired destination,” Shelley Oglesby said.

Just like navigators.

Reed said nurse navigators can put a patient’s mind at ease because navigators are able to stay with patients longer than providers and can answer more questions.

“We are able to simplify the medical terminology for our patients so they better understand their diagnosis and their care treatment,” Reed said. “Just yesterday, I had a patient that called me and said, ‘You know Amber, I really appreciate that you are able to speak to me and help me understand my diagnosis and the treatments that I’m receiving,’ and that was really nice to hear. It’s good to know that I was making an impact on that patient’s life.”

mmitchell@durangoherald.com